Bridging borders to climate-resilient, inclusive WASH in India

A woman in a yellow sari is crouching down facing a brick wall that has a Saniclimi table painted on it. She is making updates to a section of the table with white chalk.

In Jawahar Nagar, the Saniclimi wall is updated by a member of the Single Window Forum (CFAR archives)


The woman in this photograph is updating data on water, sanitation and hgygiene (WASH) services on a public 'Saniclimi wall' in Jawahar Nagar, an informal settlement of Jaipur, India. She is a member of the Single Window Forum established by Water for Women partner, the Centre for Advocacy and Research, India (CFAR).


With a population of some 1.429 billion, India is now the most populous country in the world, but with only 4% of water resources, India is also one of the world’s most water-stressed countries. India faces major water security threats due to projected changes in climate, and at least one billion people already face severe water scarcity for at least one month annually.


Supported by Australia, CFAR is working with communities, duty bearers and service providers to deliver inclusive water and WASH services in 215 informal settlements across Jaipur and Bhubaneswar through their Water for Women project, Building Climate-Resilient WASH for Climate-Impacted Vulnerable Populations.


The Saniclimi walls act as transparent and living public dashboards that present real-time community and service provider data on WASH delivery, including issues. They display the WASH service status at the ward level, which is monitored in keeping with Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) indicators, and expedite timely action to address gaps and outstanding issues.


Localisation and the leadership of community operating structures is central to these efforts. In 2021, the idea of community monitoring began to take shape. The COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the poor plight of WASH services in informal settlements and a policy shift narrowed in on improving solid and liquid waste management. Members of Slum Development Associations (SDA), Community Management Committees (CMC) and Sanitation Sub-Committees (SSC) decided to strengthen community monitoring to create greater accountability, foster community participation, and make the WASH system more responsive to the diverse needs of their communities. 


In both cities, with the support of elected representatives and ward level officials, the SDA, CMC and SSCs began to monitor WASH service delivery more proactively. In Ward 31 of Bhubaneswar, they discovered that 44 households had no access to toilets and had no choice but to defecate on the railway tracks. SDA and SSC members pursued a solution with authorities and as a result, each household had a toilet constructed for them.


Similarly in Jaipur, in Nayak Basti of ward 19, Jaipur Municipal Corporation and the Public Health Engineering Department allocated budgets to lay a sewer system, sanctioned toilet construction, and put in place measures to ensure water supply to each household after data captured through the Saniclimi wall revealed service shortfalls.


Inspired by these outcomes, today around 110 CMC members take responsibility for community monitoring for their Saniclimi walls to ensure that their communities benefit more equitably from the accountable and responsive WASH services that the wider populations of Jaipur and Bhubaneswar enjoy.


Climate change disproportionately affects those most marginalised in society, including people from minority groups, people with disabilities, women and the poor. Those living in informal settlements experience multidimensional disadvantage and face high climate hazard risks.


Water for Women partners with CFAR to strengthen climate resilience and equity in water and WASH systems in Jaipur and Bhubaneswar, and in doing so, improve access to inclusive WASH services for a targeted 74,420* people living in vulnerable informal settlement communities by the end of this year.


*Project targets are based on partner Civil Society Organisations (CSO) baseline studies. Project targets are updated periodically in response to changes in context as appropriate. To see our latest progress towards targets, see our progress


World Water Day is observed annually on 22 March and this year's theme, 'Water for peace', emphasises the importance of working together to balance everyone’s needs, to ensure that no one is left behind in access to clean water and safe sanitation, and to make water a catalyst for a more peaceful future. 

As the lifeblood of any community, when water is scarce, polluted, denied or usage unfairly shared, conflicts can arise or intensify. For women and girls, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups, water insecurity exacerbates inequities and has disproportionate impacts, including on their health and well-being. Water conflict also increases the risk of violence.

Throughout the world, women are at the frontlines of climate change and it's impacts on water security. With primary responsibility for meeting caregiving and household water needs, including for sanitation and hygiene (WASH), women are water experts in their communities.

Every day, women are brokering peace, driving sustainable agriculture for food security, and delivering WASH for the health and well-being of their families and communities. Women and water can lead us out of this crisis. 

But women cannot do it alone. As climate change impacts increase, and populations grow, we must unite to advance gender equality and accelerate progress on SDG6 - Water and sanitation for all. Everyone has a role to play in creating a fairer and more cohesive society

Throughout Asia and the Pacific, Water for Women partners are working with communities, governments, researchers, rights holder organisations, and service providers in 16 countries to deliver climate-resilient and inclusive water and WASH services for all. Together, we are accelerating progress for SDG6 for a water secure and peaceful future for all.


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